When you exhibit at food trade shows, the sensory experience is just as important as the visuals you present. Can your trade show booth make your products look amazing and incorporate taste and smell? Follow these tips to build a display that draws booth visitors in and keeps them there for sampling!
1. Design Your Booth to Match Your Product
What do you want visitors to know about your food and your brand? Is it organic or health-conscious? Decadent or luxurious? Whatever the “theme” of your food, make sure your booth design connects with that theme. For instance:
- Pair organic vegan food with neutral colors, wood, and natural fibers.
- Display candies or cupcakes in a bright, colorful, eye-catching booth.
- Team luxury food items with a simple but elegant white-and-gold color scheme.
2. Go Experiential or Go Home
Experiential exhibits represent one of the biggest and most important trends in trade shows right now. They encourage interaction from visitors as a way of making a booth memorable. Attendees become part of the conversation instead of presented to. The more engaged your exhibit visitors are, the more likely they are to try your products and listen to your brand message. For a food exhibit, this is a match made in heaven: The act of tasting food and drink is inherently active and engaging.
The importance of providing a tactile experience prompted Yakima Chief Hops to request sensory stations in its booth designs. Yakima Chief Hops, a grower-owned network of hop farms in the Pacific northwest, aims to establish itself as a leading global hop supplier. To that end, they commissioned ProExhibits to design three different trade show booths for use in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. With different maximum sizes in each country, it was important to design flexible food exhibits that could incorporate sensory stations in multiple configurations.
When designing displays for Yakima Chief Hops, ProExhibits added two different stations to each booth footprint. Visitors could touch and taste the company’s products. At hop stations visitors could see, touch, and smell the hops. Each booth also had pouring stations supervised by booth staff, where visitors could try beer brewed from the hops.
To ensure Yakima Chief Hops could showcase their products in any space, each booth design was flexible enough that both sensory stations could be included at any size. In Liverpool, England, for instance, a 2×4 m booth space was able to include a hop station as well as two tap handles for pouring beer.
3. Build a Sensory Feast
When it comes to food, people eat with our eyes before they ever take a bite! Good presentation is crucial at a food trade show. If your booth isn’t clean and attractive, and your food isn’t displayed with care, it’s tough to tempt people to try your products.
The most effective way to display products is typically on shelving or other flat display surfaces that give different products chances to shine. Let people see not just the packaging, but the food itself, to engage as many senses as possible.
You can enhance this experience by showcasing what your food is made of. As well as displaying the whole product, display the natural ingredients that go into making it. This provides another interactive sensory experience; people can further see, smell, and feel the quality of your product while connecting to it on a deeper level.
4. Make Food Simple and Safe
Providing people with a way to interact with your products is vital. When it comes to food exhibits, this interaction should be easy, intuitive, and enjoyable. That means food and drink samples are easy to see and access, and there’s enough product that people don’t have to wait in line to try it. It should also be easy for people to talk to a booth rep about the food, if they want to.
One way to use booth design to manage this is to create different zones within the exhibit. For instance, if food is stationed along the periphery of your booth space, it’s easy for people walking along the aisles to access. The interior of the trade show booth can then act as a space for visitors to have deeper interactions with you or your booth staff.
Handling, Hygiene, and Safety
Equally important in a food exhibit is that any interaction with food is safe and hygienic for your staff and your visitors. People shouldn’t have to risk anything when they sample your products—and they shouldn’t have to worry about whether they are either.
That generally falls into three categories:
- Allergy awareness
You must ensure food can be sampled hygienically and that this fact is immediately obvious to visitors. In most cases, food trade shows stipulate in their regulations how food must be displayed and handled. These regulations can change from show to show, so check the requirements for each event you attend.
Here are a few easy ways to make sure people have an enjoyable experience, free from worry:
- Set up tasting stations where booth staff can serve visitors and provide individual attention.
- Provide tasting spoons, tongs, and other disposable items where necessary.
- Pre-package or portion items individually, so people only need to touch foods they intend to try.
- Clearly label items that are for touching only to ensure visitors aren’t tasting items others have touched.
- Clearly label foods that contain common allergens and should be avoided by people with intolerance, like peanuts, gluten, etc.
- Clearly label items that might be hot to the touch.
5. Focus on Freshness
One of the most difficult things about displaying food and beverages is that food exhibit design must account for the need to keep products fresh and temperature-controlled. Where fresh food is being served, it’s vital for both food safety and quality that it’s served at the right temperature. Depending on the product, this may mean incorporating heating or cooling within display design or making space for items such as ovens, warmers, and refrigeration units.
In the case of Yakima Chief Hops, the ability to store beer in a temperature-controlled environment was a vital part of booth design. ProExhibits took on the challenge of designing a space that was 100% efficient in maximizing what was available. Since the build included three different footprint sizes, different layouts were devised. All of these had to provide enough storage space to cope with demand. As the brand took off, the built-in flexibility of each booth footprint allowed ProExhibits to work on adding more room for beer storage.
Don’t Leave Your Success to Chance
Planning to exhibit at a food trade show? Just as at any industry event, planning and preparation is key. But the logistics involved in showcasing food and drink mean that good preparation is more important than ever! Make your food exhibit a success by paying careful attention to all the senses. Let your visitors see, touch, smell, and taste your products to have them raving about your brand long after the trade show ends.